Watkins, Thomson Qualify for U.S. Amateur

Kurt Watkins and Hunter Thomson picked up two coveted qualifying spots to the U.S. Amateur Championship after a grueling 36 holes at Arrowhead Country Club in Glendale, Ariz., Tuesday. For the first time since 2019, the United States Golf Association is holding qualifying across 92 sites for the U.S. Amateur Championship, scheduled Aug. 9-15 at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Penn.

Watkins, 38, of Phoenix, qualified for his first U.S. Amateur with medalist honors after a two-round total of 10-under-par 134. He registered an opening round four-under-par 68, one shot behind Sean O’Donnel. He continued on to turn in a bogey-free final round six-under-par 66, besting the field by one stroke.

“It is great – I had one of my best buddies on the bag and he used to be a member here, so he was giving me some hot reads,” Watkins said. “To be honest, this is a little redemption. My buddy (Nathan Grintjes) and I qualified for the U.S Four-Ball before it got canceled last year.”

This marks Watkin’s fourth time qualifying for a USGA championship – he qualified for the U.S. Amateur Public Links (2002, 2004), and for the afore-mentioned 2020 U.S. Four-Ball Championship, which was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

Thomson, 17, of Calgary, Canada, picked up the second and final qualifying spot after registering two consecutive under-par rounds. With an opening round two-under-par 70, the standout junior started the final 18 two back of a qualifying spot.

“Before the round started, I knew I had to go out there and give it my all,” Thomson said.

And he did just that.

Thomson went on to turn in an impressive bogey-free seven-under-par 65, good for the low round of the qualifier, landing his first U.S. Amateur ticket. Thomas, a University of Michigan commit, will also play in the 2021 U.S. Junior Amateur next week after earning an exemption based on his World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR).

“Bogey free seven-under – I was pretty pumped, it was kind of nerve-racking coming down the stretch, but I knew I could get it done I had been in that situation before,” Thomson said. “I started birdie, birdie and never looked back from there – Whatever I am presented with I know what I have to go out and do.”

Evan White and Sean O’Donnell will serve as first and second alternates after each finishing 36 holes at 9-under-par.

The U.S. Amateur Championship, first contested in 1895, is the oldest of the 14 championships conducted by the United States Golf Association (USGA). With a thrilling 7,811 (most since 1999) applications accepted by the USGA, 312 of the world’s best amateur golfers will take on “The Ultimate Test in Golf” this August, returning to Oakmont Country Club for the fifth time since 1919. The Championship is conducted over seven consecutive days, where two rounds of qualifying stroke play and six rounds of match play determine who will hoist the Havemeyer Trophy.

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